Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Tasmania: pretty as a picture

The Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery has unveiled a new winter/spring program that showcases Tasmanian artists.

Running until November, the program encourages audiences to think about their place in the natural world.
“It's important to reflect upon the natural beauty that we're so lucky to be surrounded by here in Tasmania,” said RACT Destinations Chief Operating Officer Andrew Paynter. 
“It's remarkable to see how each artist represents the state through their work.
“Looking at Tasmania from fresh perspectives can inspire us to escape the everyday and get out there and enjoy nature."
The winter/spring program will feature the following artists:
Critical Points by Paul Murphy
Until October 7 
With a strong interest in environmental change, specifically the relationship between man-made and natural materials, Murphy's Critical Points is a response to understanding site.
Making reference to the rock formations of Cataract Gorge, Murphy's clay sculptures explore the connection between the formations' natural creation and their current cultural significance to Tasmanians.
Otherworldliness by Pamela Horsley
Until September 29
Inspired by her home on the Great Western Tiers, Horsley is in constant awe of the Tasmanian wilderness.
As she bushwalks, she takes in the natural sights, sounds and smells, and reflects upon those who have walked before her.
These experiences have made their way into Otherworldliness, a collection of Monotype prints that explore the dynamic relationship between the land and the people that inhabit it.
Everything and Nothing by Adam Gibson
Until October 13
A photographic meditation on winter at Cradle Mountain, Everything and Nothing encapsulates Gibson's search for places that have a magical sense of emptiness. 
Shot this season, Gibson's images focus on landscapes that have been overlooked and abstract moments that embody the characteristics of Tasmania's darker months.
Enchanted Places by Gaynor Peaty and Julie Irvin
Until November 11
Enchanted Places is a joint exhibition by Peaty and Irvin that captures their response to Tasmania's landscape.
Through the art of printmaking, Enchanted Places reflects their personal journeys and travels, as well as the rhythms and patterns of nature that inspire them both.
Perspective by David Murphy
Until November 12
Inspired by the diversity of Tasmania's wild, rugged coastlines and ancient rain forests, Murphy uses photography to share these beautiful parts of the world with his audience.
Through his work, Murphy shows why Tasmania really is a photographer's dream destination.
For more information on the winter/spring exhibition visit wildernessgallery.com.au

Monday, 15 July 2019

Meet the new restaurant and bar with a 100% Victorian focus

Shadowplay by Peppers Hotel at Southbank Melbourne has revealed a menu and drinks list that is 100% Victorian. 

Edwin Wine Bar & Cellar’s wine list features wine from each of Victoria’s 21 wine regions, including some of Australia’s most well-known and sought after wine labels such as Crawford River, Bindi, Yarra Yering and Sorrenberg. 

The wine list also boasts an almost equal gender balance between male and female winemakers.
“Our head chef Ritesh Patil and sommelier Yu Kurosawa have created an extraordinary dining experience that celebrates the diversity of Victoria and Victorians,” said general manager Alister Munro. 

“Our menu is not just curated from the inspiration of Victoria’s best wine and produce, its philosophy is based on gender equity and fostering a relationship with local producers.”

Resident sommelier Yu Kurosawa is one of the growing number of female sommeliers in Australia and says that every wine has a story, not just about how it tastes and what food it should be paired with, but how and where the grapes were grown and the individual style of the winemaker.

“We hang our hat on the fact our wine list has been curated to be filled with Victorian wines, including some of Australia’s most well-known and sought-after wine labels.

“In fact, our entire drinks menu is locally sourced including water and soft drinks from Daylesford, orange juice from Caulfield and soda and mixers from Kyneton.”

Spirits including gin, vodka, whisky, rum, vermouth and liqueurs are also produced in Victoria.

The venue is also encouraging guests to discover the stories behind its wine list with its monthly wine program, created by sommelier and wine educator Dan Sims.

Each month will focus on a different Victorian wine region (e.g. July – Macedon, August - Heathcote/Bendigo, September – Yarra Valley) and the evening event will be presented by the winemakers themselves - and evening tastings will be free.

Head chef Ritesh Patil says it was not difficult to create a menu that exclusively featured produce from Victoria.

“Not only does Victoria produce the best seafood, meats, cheeses and local produce in Australia but we have some great local producers here who deserve to step out of the shadows of being just a supplier and be seen as co-creators of our menu of excellence,” he said.

The menu highlights a Daylesford salumi selection and celebrates cheese supplied by Marie at Emerald Deli at South Melbourne markets.

Chef Patil’s food preparation style is one of simplicity with just four or five ingredients on a plate.

“It is much more powerful to have each ingredient speak for itself," he said. "I don’t over-complicate my dishes because this just drowns each ingredient’s contribution to a dish.”

Edwin Wine Bar & Cellar is located at 308-320 City Road, Southbank, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For more information and to peruse menus, visit www.peppers.com.au/shadow-play/dining

What you need to know about Tasmanian Vintners

The dust has settled. Farewell Winemaking Tasmania, hello Tasmanian Vintners. 

The new company has acquired 100% of the business and assets of Winemaking Tasmania, securing the future of the Cambridge-based wine processor.

Tasmanian Vintners is jointly owned by a family company of prominent Tasmanian businessman Rod Roberts and the Fogarty Wine Group (FWG), one of Australia’s leading boutique wine businesses.

“With a strong group of contract customers and fruit growers and the shareholders’ own increasing production volumes, together with access to capital, we anticipate Tasmanian Vintners will be one of Tasmania’s fastest growing, high-quality wine businesses,’’ Roberts and Peter Fogarty said.

The business manages production for 30 boutique wine brands across the state.

“We’re committed to retaining all WT’s contract winemaking customers, taking fruit from its existing grower base and working closely with the Tasmanian producers to provide high quality processing and bottling capability in Tasmania,” they said.

Depending upon the season, the business employs between 20 and 30 employees. There are also plans for a cellar door tasting facility on site. . 

“Suppliers and customers can have confidence that the business is now well funded and committed to being one of Tasmania’s most successful premium and luxury wine producers. We see enormous potential for the Tasmanian wine industry. It has rapidly strengthened its reputation for outstanding pinot noir, chardonnay, sparkling wines and other varietals.” 

Winemaking Tasmania went into voluntary administration in May. 

The employment of former CEO Jonathan Lord has been terminated by the administrators and he will not have any further role in the operation of the business.

Tasmanian Vintners Pty Ltd is 50–50 owned by a Rod Roberts’ family company and FWG.

Businessman Roberts also operates a medium-sized vineyard near Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast, while FWG encompasses Lake’s Folly in the Hunter Valley, Evans & Tate and Deep Woods Estate in Margaret River and Millbrook in the Perth Hills. The group also operates a large wine processing facility in Margaret River.

Fogarty said his group was investing heavily in Tasmania having recently acquired the three-hectare Lowestoft vineyard at Berriedale in HObart's northern suburbs. 

It is also establishing a new vineyard site in Gilling Brook Road, Forcett, with plans under way to develop vineyards in excess of 200 hectares over the next three years.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Powerhouse hotel properties join Rydges group

The Rydges hotel group has snapped up two key properties in regional New South Wales. 
Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth and Powerhouse Armidale, currently branded as Quality Hotels, join the growing stable of Rydges properties. 

The Tamworth property (above) will relaunch as Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges today, while Armidale will relaunch as Powerhouse Hotel Armidale by Rydges on 31 July, 2019.  
Both hotels will continue to be managed by owner and hotelier Greg Maguire. 
“Powerhouse Hotels is an Australian owned family business and we've been operating in regional NSW for the past 39 years," Maguire said. "Over this time we've developed a solid reputation for being at the heart of the business community with exceptional service, quality restaurants and bars and luxurious facilities.
“The completion of a multi-million dollar upgrade, which will take our Tamworth hotel from a 4.5 star rating to a 5-star rating, was the catalyst for choosing to partner with EVENT whose brands, Rydges Hotels and Resorts, QT Hotels and Resorts and Atura Hotels are at the leading edge of Australian hospitality.
“We're confident our Rydges partnership will deliver a local corporate sector focus, distribution strength in the global marketplace, continued innovation in our food and beverage offering, increased MICE business, strong digital strategy and authentically Australian guest experiences.”
The Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges features 81 rooms including brand new 5-star Powerhouse king rooms and suites. It has 24-hour reception and room service.

The Powerhouse Hotel Armidale by Rydges is the only upmarket 4.5 star hotel open 24 hours in the city of Armidale. It has 57 rooms and suites and is home to Azka Restaurant, Wine and Tapas Bar. 

Saturday, 13 July 2019

New look for hotel to the stars

Ljubljana is one of my favourite cities in Europe and the lively Slovenian capital is surprisingly easy to get to; just a two-hour bus ride from Venice, for instance, or a €39 train ride from Munich.

Ljubljana is a delight in summer with its many open air festivals, buskers, interesting food and local wines and beers.

The legendary Lev Hotel hotel in Ljubljana, which has hosted world-renowned artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Agatha Christie, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan, has just reopened after a complete refurb.

The hotel opened in 1964, was the first international five-star hotel in Slovenia and had a spell as an InterContinental.

The Lev now has 36 new rooms and the TehnoLev conference centre, which consists of three modularly designed conference rooms. The owners describe the new image of the hotel as “retro chic”.
Lev Hotel is a member of Union Hotels and is celebrating its 55th anniversary with five completely refurbished floors, including the "Pavarotti floor", new premier "top floor" suites and increased capacity.

There are now 209 hotel rooms of various categories available and 20 are premium-standard premier suites.

The first floor is named Pavarotti's floor after the renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who stayed here during his visit to Ljubljana in 1997. 

Other floors will get new names after their famous residents, among them Christie, Dylan, Orson Welles and Kirk Douglas.

The former café has been replaced by L Bistro and Bar, open also to passers-by. The bistro focuses on light lunches, serving traditional Ljubljana dishes within the framework of the Taste Ljubljana project, including Ljubljana pancakes.
The hotel is central to Mestni Park Tivoli, Ljubljana railway station and Ljubljana Castle. 

The best views you can find in Hong Kong?

For the past four years, sky100 has offered perhaps the best views of Hong Kong. 

sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck is located on the 100th floor of International Commerce Centre, the tallest building in Hong Kong. 

At 393 metres above sea level, it is the only indoor observation deck in Hong Kong offering 360-degree views of the territory and its famous Victoria Harbour. 

The attraction is complemented by a well-connected transportation network, including the Express Rail Link Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus, and a shopping mall. 

It also features Hong Kong's fastest double-deck high-speed elevators, which reach the 100th floor in just 60 seconds (which sounds both scary, and amazing). 

sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck introduces different facets of Hong Kong culture via various multimedia exhibits. 

sky100's Tales of Hong Kong is a 28-metre-long multimedia story wall, showcases 100 fascinating local tales and anecdotes. 

Visitors can enjoy a range of treats and enjoy boundless sea views at Café 100 by The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which sits on the west side of the deck. 

sky100 is one of the eight founding members of the Hong Kong Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, as well as the only member in Hong Kong of the World Federation of Great Towers.

It's on my list for my next visit. 

Friday, 12 July 2019

What you need to know before driving in France

Driving in France is more a competitive sport than a method of getting from A to B.

French drivers will push to the limit to get into a roundabout, or beat you to a parking space, but there is very little road rage and most drivers are actually polite.

British motorists heading to France this summer (and by definition that includes Australians, New Zealanders and others used to driving on left) have been urged to read up on driving rules to avoid breaking the law in France.

Research by RAC Europe suggests a majority of British drivers are in the dark about a number of French driving rules and risk being fined.

Research found that:

- 63% of motorbike riders or car drivers are not aware tailgating is illegal in France

- 49% do not know the only legal way of using a handheld mobile phone in the country is to park up in a designated parking place and switch the engine off.

- only 14% are currently aware of the new 'Mesta Fusion' speed cameras being rolled out across France this year.

Also remember speed is restricted to 50kph in towns and cities, 80kph on major roads and 130kph on motorways unless stated otherwise. Fines can be very high.

The wearing of seat belts is compulsory in the rear and front seats of vehicles.

RAC Europe spokesman Rod Dennis said: "With thousands of UK drivers taking their own cars - and motorbikes - to France in the coming weeks, it can be easy to forget that certain driving conventions can be quite different to those this side of the Channel.

"Breaking down on a French motorway, for instance, results in a driver having to pay a mandatory fee to have their vehicle recovered, before a breakdown assistance company can come to help - a very different experience to here in the UK. So it's important UK drivers check their breakdown policy covers them before they leave home.

"Luckily, the vast majority of drivers say they have European breakdown cover in place before they leave - which is just as well, as a good policy is vital in helping drivers out of a sticky situation should they be unlucky enough to suffer a breakdown away from home."